If you’re a struggling entrepreneur, then this article will provide you with a set of guidelines to follow on how to succeed in business.
In fact, these are the exact principles that I teach all of the students in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course to help them consistently make forward progress.
Now I’ve been running my class for 7+ years now and I’ve come to learn that much of success is mental.
Intelligence is not nearly as important as having the proper mindset and establishing a set of habits and rules that guarantee the desired outcome.
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How To Succeed In Business Video Overview
Rule #1: Work On The Stuff That Matters First
Here’s a fun fact. Almost a third of the students who sign up for my class quickly rush to incorporate their business or form an LLC before even knowing exactly what they want to sell.
And after that, they spend another good chunk of time worrying about the different licenses and permits that they “might” have to obtain for their ecommerce shop.
A small subset of these students then go off and ask me questions about what business expenses they can deduct on their tax return.
Steve, if I buy an iPad, can I expense it on my business?
None of this stuff really matters early on! You can incorporate or get your LLC at any time. All of the information on permits and other legalities that you need to obtain are pretty straightforward and easy to find.
And learning all of the tax implications is great but it’s not going to help you make money!
All of this stuff is trivial and easy to accomplish which is why most people work on these things first. They want to delude themselves into thinking they are making progress when in fact they are just dragging their feet.
Tackle the hard problems first! If you can’t overcome the difficult steps, then you won’t even have to bother with the easy stuff.
Rule #2: Don’t Be Stingy At The Expense Of Time
Everyone has different capabilities. There are some people who are adept with computers and learning new skills.
Heck, there are many students in my class who joined without knowing a lick of HTML/PHP/CSS and now they are managing their own open source ecommerce platforms all by themselves.
If you have no desire to host your own site or if you are extremely tech averse, it doesn’t make sense to learn how to design your own website because you’ll struggle and never make consistent progress.
If you lack certain skills, it sometimes makes sense to pay for services to compensate for what you are not good at so you can focus on your strengths.
If you are cringing at paying $29 a month for your online business, then chances are you don’t have the right mindset.
Think about it this way. Starting a traditional brick and mortar store would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. And yet you are worried about $29 a month?
The other day, I had a student balk at the pricing of Jungle Scout. For all of you who are unfamiliar with the tool, Jungle Scout is easily one of the most essential tools to have when selling on Amazon.
It only costs $97 for lifetime access and if you don’t have it, then you are at a severe disadvantage. Once again, if you are balking at $97, then starting an ecommerce business is probably not for you.
Even though I have a reputation for doing a lot of things by myself, I still pay for plenty of expensive services that help me automate and further my business. For example…
- I pay $100s a month for professional webhosting even though I know how to run my own linux webserver.
- I pay $100s a month for Drip, my email marketing provider
- I pay $100s every month for payroll services, software and other things I could create myself
It takes money to make money and you should not go into a business without being willing to spend some cash to do things right. Don’t be cheap!
Rule #3: Don’t Believe Everything You Read Online
Steve, I read on the warrior forums the other day that guest posting is dead. How am I going to get backlinks now?
Steve, I read somewhere that you can’t make money with Adwords so should I even bother running a campaign?
Steve, I heard that Facebook is saturated and too expensive now. Should I still advertise there?
Now I’m not going to say that everything you read online is garbage, but most of it is. By the time you sift through all of the crap to get to the good stuff, you’ve probably wasted a huge amount of your time.
There’s nothing wrong with reading blogs or browsing the internet marketing forums but take everything you read with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to search engine optimization.
Honestly, the only people who know exactly what is going on with SEO are Google search engine engineers. Most of what you read online is just speculation.
If you want to make better use of your time, you shouldn’t learn from random anonymous people on the Internet or even your peers.
You should study from the experts. These days, I spend most of my time hanging out with people who are doing much better than I am, people who I am humbled to be around.
It’s easy to spend your time and make friends with people on the forums or people at your own level, but you won’t learn very much this way.
Once I started talking to other ecommerce store owners and bloggers who were 10X more successful than myself, I started doing a lot better.
Rule #4: Don’t Wait Too Long. Just Launch!
I am constantly producing new content for my course so there’s always more to learn. But this constant flow of new information can be a double edged sword for some students.
In fact, there are some people in my class who have been there for a very long time and still haven’t launched their business even though…
- They have selected their niche
- They have their domain
- They have their suppliers lined up
- They have signed up for Amazon
- They have their website pretty much ready to go
A lot of us are perfectionists and I know it can be tough to finally launch your business and put yourself out there.
But you need to try not to over focus on the tiny details. No matter how hard you work to make things perfect, something is going to go wrong.
So instead of focusing on tiny little details like how big your logo looks and whether your product verbiage is perfect, just get the thing out there and start gathering data.
Once you have real customer data, you’ll get a better handle on where you should be spending your time.
Rule #5: Put Your Best Foot Forward
On the flip side, once you do decide to launch, you have to put out your best work and give yourself a chance to succeed.
For example, a lot of new entrepreneurs are so anxious to launch that they rush out a sub par website or a terrible Amazon listing, receive no sales and then just give up.
Crap in always equals crap out and there’s a fine line between just taking action and putting out quality work.
Did you know that Amazon has a grace period and provides more visibility to brand new products in the beginning to see how they perform?
Well if you put out a poor listing during this grace period, then you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot.
Even though it’s important to take action and launch, make sure that your work meets a certain standard of quality before you jump to conclusions based on your results.
Rule #6: Focus On One Thing At A Time
Ecommerce is complicated and there are hundreds of strategies that you COULD be using to grow your business.
But if you try to learn all of them, then you will succeed at none of them.
Overall, it’s better to be really good at one thing than mediocre at many things.
In the early stages of your business, it’s important to find just one strategy that works and double down on it. And don’t move on until you’ve saturated that one strategy.
Did you know that back in the early days, Bumblebee Linens practically hit 6 figures advertising on Adwords alone?
You just need one good channel to hit 100K or more. That’s it!
Do not try to learn Facebook, Google, Amazon, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram all at once. Because if you do, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and fail.
Here’s how I operate all of my businesses. Every single year, I have one large overarching goal.
In 2015, I focused on learning and growing the Amazon side of my business.
In 2016, I focused on improving my website conversion rate and email marketing
In 2017, I focused on Facebook advertising
In 2018, I focused on Facebook Messenger marketing.
Just pick one thing and concentrate on proficiency!
Rule #7: Establish Habits That Ensure Forward Progress
In order to make forward progress, you must create a habit of consistently working on your business. After all, success is about making small incremental gains over time rather than one massive leap.
Before you decide to start a business, you have to be willing to commit to it for at least 2 years or more. Why so long?
It’s because most new entrepreneurs quit before they see the gains. Most entrepreneurs don’t reap the rewards until after the 1 year mark.
Stealing an analogy from my friend James Clear, starting a business is like melting an ice cube.
You work your butt off to raise the temperature degree by degree starting from 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
From degree 0 thru 32, there’s no change, no progress, and you want to give up.
But once you hit 33 degrees, the ice slowly begin to melt. And once it starts melting, it melts quickly.
This is exactly how entrepreneurship works. Small consistent action is rarely noticeable but it adds up over time and you have to stick around to reap the rewards.
So start by setting aside a specific block of time that is solely devoted to your business. Then, make sure you stick to your schedule.
For example, I work on my blog Sunday mornings from 9am-1pm. On Monday thru Wednesday, I work on my online course, blog and podcast. Thursdays are devoted to Bumblebee Linens.
And on Friday, I devote the entire day to thinking and planning for the following week.
My routine is like clockwork and I rarely skip a beat.
Even when I don’t see any progress, I continue to push forward. And this consistency is what has allowed me to grow my blog and my podcast over the years.
Rule #8: Change Your Mindset
Throughout your entrepreneurship journey, you will experience many ups and downs. And how you mentally deal with your obstacles will dictate your success.
It’s all about your attitude.
When things go wrong, do you ask yourself…
- Why do bad things always happen to me?
- Why am I so bad at this?
- Why can’t I ever catch a break?
Or do you ask yourself…
- What am I doing wrong and how do I fix it?
- What can I do right now to achieve XYZ?
- How can I improve myself to move forward?
- What should I do about the situation to make sure it never happens again?
Do you see a difference with the questions above?
Successful entrepreneurs work on solving problems whereas the losers adopt a victim and scarcity mindset. If you go into business with the expectation of adversity, you’ll be much better off.
Whenever I fall into the trap of a scarcity mindset, I take a little time to express gratitude for what I have and for what I’ve already accomplished.
And for some strange reason, this always gives me the jolt I need to stay on track.
How To Succeed In Business
Over the years, I’ve had a blast running my online store course and watching my students evolve into successful ecommerce business owners.
As I gather more data and interact with more students, I’ve become fairly proficient at addressing the common problems before they arise.
Starting a successful business is less about knowing what to do than your mental ability to persist and figure things out. It’s all one big mind game:)
Anyways, I hope this post helps some of you who are on the sidelines waiting to take the leap. Good luck!
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.